…Warns against restructuring
By Dayo Adesulu & Monsuru Olowoopejo
Lagos—As herdsmen attacks continue to ravage Benue, Taraba and some other states, claiming lives, Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State, has said that the solution to the menace would require looking beyond hatred and prejudice.
Delivering a lecture titled Inclusion: Path to a new Nation’, yesterday, at the University of Lagos, UNILAG 2018 convocation lecture and investiture ceremony, for the 12th Vice Chancellor of the institution, Ambode, urged Nigerians to jettison pettiness and religious bigotry which he said had divided the country along different lines.
He said: “Resolving the problems regarding federalism and the herdsman, as with so many other problems, requires us to look beyond prejudice and hatred. Exploiting fear and bias is easy and seems well in the short-run. Over the longer-term, it is a bitter cup that cures nothing but ferments greater hatred and larger problems.”
He argued that more attention should be concentrated on issue threatening the country’s unity than others that could bring economic uncertainty and dislocation.
Ambode stressed that the “clamour for restructuring rather than true federalism, considering the state of the country would be time consuming and costly despite claims that money will be saved. “
Rather than demand for restructuring, he advised Nigerians to strive towards implementing true federalism, saying: “I am concerned about the intense focus on wholesale change to our political architecture. Such a thing is inherently time consuming and costly despite the claims that money will be saved.
“There is widespread consensus that too much power sits in the centre. We can correct this imbalance by reallocating power and responsibilities between the States and Federal government by amending the list of exclusive and concurrent powers and duties of these governments to reflect current realities in the nation.
“These changes will have beneficial impact visible within a short amount of time. The impact of these changes, though political in origin, will be economic in nature and it is in our economic life , the nation needs the most help.”
While harping on the need to abandon complete restructuring and concentrate on true federalism, Ambode noted that the inclusion strategy adopted in Lagos could be embraced and replicated across the country.
“For States to give optimal service to their citizens the principle of inclusion, first needs to be applied to the division of power between the Federal and State governments.
“There recently has been clamor for devolution of power and true federalism. While much of this talk is good intentioned, I believe it misses the crucial point. The linchpin of good governance is not found in the system deployed but in the quality of its administration.
“We must implement the federal system as it was intended to be. Heretofore, too much power has resided in the National government. This has been to the detriment of the authority and efficiency of both State and Local governments.
“This has caused a governance vacuum of sorts. The Federal government is burdened with tasks beyond the reach of its best competencies. The States and Local government are dissuaded from treating many matters of a local nature that are better left in their hands due to their greater knowledge of local conditions.
“We need to shift some functions/responsibilities from the national government to place more of it in the hands of the states. This is how we give federalism the best chance to work. Until we do this, calls to abandon the current system serve not to fix the underlying problem.
Present at the occasion were Prof. Anya. O. Anya, Oba Rilwan Akiolu of Lagos, Senator Remi Tinubu among others.